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Vascular Plants of California
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Darlingtonia californica

Higher Taxonomy
Family: SarraceniaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Perennial herb, generally from slender rhizome, short caudex, or stolon; carnivorous; roots poorly developed. Leaf: in basal rosette, prostrate to erect, each forming a tubular pitcher with fluid that digests captured prey by enzymes, bacteria, or other organisms, with stiff, reflexed hairs within. Inflorescence: scapose, flower generally 1. Flower: bisexual, radial, nodding; sepals 5 [4--6], generally free; petals 5 [0]; stamens many; pistil 1, ovary superior, chambers generally 5, incomplete above or not, placentas generally axile, style 1, 5-lobed, umbrella-like or not, stigma terminal or under tips of style lobes. Fruit: capsule, loculicidal; valves generally 5. Seed: many, flattened-ovoid, smooth, or club-like, papillate [winged].
Genera In Family: 3 genera, 24 species: northern California, Oregon, British Columbia, eastern North America, northern South America, especially acidic bogs, streamsides, moist areas; often planted outside native ranges by horticulturists but generally not invasive.
eFlora Treatment Author: Barry A. Rice
Scientific Editor: Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: DarlingtoniaView Description 


Etymology: (William Darlington, Philadelphia botanist, 1782--1863)
Darlingtonia californica Torr.
Habit: Rhizomed; stolons +- 1 m. Leaf: nearly erect, 1--6(10) dm, green-yellow to deep red, enlarged upward; pitcher top opening underneath, tube with non-digestive fluids within; appendages yellow or green to purple. Inflorescence: < 1 m; scape bracts yellow. Flower: sepals 4--6 cm, oblong to oblanceolate, yellow-green, purple-tinged or not; petals 2--4 cm, narrowly ovate, yellow-green between wide, dark purple veins (variant lacking purple veins in Nevada Co.); stamens 12--15 in 1 whorl; ovary tip truncate or concave, style 2--3 mm, deeply 5-lobed, stigmas 5. Fruit: 2.5--4.5 cm, obovoid. Seed: +- 2 mm, papillate, light red-brown. Chromosomes: 2n=30.
Ecology: Seeps, boggy places with running water, generally serpentine; Elevation: 60--2200 m. Bioregional Distribution: KR, NCoRO (introduced, Mendocino Co.), n SNH (c Plumas, Sierra, Nevada cos.); Distribution Outside California: western Oregon; planted elsewhere. Flowering Time: Apr--Jun Note: Pollinator the bee Andrena nigrihirta, possibly also an arachnid; digestion in leaves by bacteria, arthropods, not by plant enzymes. Pitcher resembling cobra with fangs or forked tongue.
Synonyms: Chrysamphora californica (Torr.) Greene
Jepson eFlora Author: Barry A. Rice
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)
Listed on CNPS Rare Plant Inventory

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Jepson Video for Darlingtonia californica

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Botanical illustration including Darlingtonia californica

botanical illustration including Darlingtonia californica

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Citation for this treatment: Barry A. Rice 2012, Darlingtonia californica, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on June 14, 2024.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2024, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on June 14, 2024.

Darlingtonia californica
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©2020 Neal Kramer
Darlingtonia californica
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©2014 California Academy of Sciences
Darlingtonia californica
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©2009 Barry Rice
Darlingtonia californica
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©2008 Keir Morse
Darlingtonia californica
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©2014 California Academy of Sciences

More photos of Darlingtonia californica
in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Darlingtonia californica:
KR, NCoRO (introduced, Mendocino Co.), n SNH (c Plumas, Sierra, Nevada cos.)
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map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
View all CCH records
All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).